France has handed back 26 treasures that were looted from Benin during the colonial period, fulfilling a promise made by President Emmanuel Macron to restore a lost part of Africa’s heritage. Benin President Patrice Talon and Culture Minister Jean-Michel Abimbola travelled to Paris to bring home the artefacts that were snatched by French forces 130 years ago. Talon said he felt “overwhelming emotion” at recovering the objects taken during the ransacking of the Kingdom of Dahomey in the south of present-day Benin, including a royal throne. The French leader hailed “a symbolic, moving and historic moment” which had been long-awaited by Africans. The return of the pieces taken from the Royal Palaces of Abomey, which also include three totemic statues, comes as calls mount in Africa for European countries to return the colonial spoils lining their museum shelves. Before being packed up for the long journey home the works were shown at the Quai Branly for one last time in late October. In Benin, they will be exhibited at various sites, including a former Portuguese fort in the city of Ouidah, once a slave-trading hub, while awaiting the completion of a museum in Abomey to house them.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA